Stitching a Story Together Piece by Piece with Susan Wiggs

April 13, 2012

Writing, reading and sewing are among my favorite pastimes. None of them burn any calories…and if I throw cooking in there, I’m in big trouble, because then I’m sitting on my, um, behind, absentmindedly eating naughty food while I read or write…I don’t eat while I sew. No food or drinks allowed near my sewing machines or projects. That’s a rule, except for the one time when Hunky Hubby set up a play date for me and a quilter he worked with (Hi, Debbie), and then proceeded to make blender after blender of strawberry margaritas while we, ahem, worked. But, that’s another story, and it didn’t end well.

Anyway, this has nothing to do with writing, well, actually it does, because what I planned to talk about was the book I just read by Susan Wiggs, The Goodbye Quilt.

I picked up the book because I love to sew, I love to read, and of course I love to write, and here it was, a book that combined two of those things…really all three, because it offered writing inspiration. I’d never read a book quite like this, but a number of people have told me that I really should write a book that combines my love of sewing or cooking with my writing.

The heroine in my current WIP is a fashion designer, and although I use some of my sewing knowledge and love of fabrics and fashion in the story, it’s not an integral part of the story. She could be a chef or an architect, or any number of other things and the story would hold together.

In The Goodbye Quilt, however, Susan Wiggs has skillfully embroidered a beautiful story that both literally and figuratively stitches together the different fabrics and embellishments that make up a life.

There isn’t a lot of drama, and the conflict is more about the inner turmoil that a mother goes through as her child becomes a young adult and she has to let go. It’s everything it should be.

As a mother of three young adult sons, I could feel every word on the page. I was Linda, the mother in this story, as she chose a remnant from a party dress or a small button to add to the intricate quilt she was making. I’m right there with her, torn between wanting my boys to experience life and fulfill their dreams and wanting to pull them back under my wings where I can protect them.

But really, I was fascinated with the way she wove the making of a quilt, something so creative and unique, into her story. I’m already making notes about how I might do this as well.

Okay, I’ve read a book this week, and I’ll be working at the sewing store (and possibly sewing this evening)…I really need to do something to get up off my, um, behind, and burn some calories. I think I’m alone in the house….I’m going to go use that Wii Hunky Hubby got me for Christmas and Zumba. Don’t tell the kids, but it just might be my Wii!

So what do you think? Do you have hobbies or interests that could be more than the details of your story? That could actually drive the story and move it forward? I’d love to hear about them.

Tari

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2 Responses to “Stitching a Story Together Piece by Piece with Susan Wiggs”


  1. I recently read Maria Duenas’ “The Time in Between,” with a seamstress protagonist. I don’t want to give anything away, but her career is definitely key to the plot in a wonderful and surprising way.

  2. taristhread Says:

    Laura, I’ll have to check out her book, I’m intrigued, thank you!

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